Creating new perspectives since 2009

New Israel spyware, exposed for targeting journalists, politicians in several countries, shut down

April 17, 2023 at 2:39 pm

Illustration file picture shows a man typing on a computer keyboard [REUTERS/Kacper Pempel]

A new Israeli spyware, revealed last week for targeting journalists and opposition politicians in several countries is shutting down, reported The Times of Israel.

QuaDream, founded by a former Israeli military official and former veteran employee of the NSO company, has been struggling with financial issues in recent months, but suffered a full-blown collapse, after a report published by Citizen Lab, identified the hacking tools of the Israeli firm used against advocacy agencies, opposition figures and journalists across 10 countries.

According to Haaretz, employees were called for a pre-termination hearing yesterday. The staff has been reduced to only two people to ensure the safety of the remaining equipment, while the firm puts up its intellectual property for sale.

Citizen Lab, which monitors the misuse of modern electronic devices, said that after being placed on the user’s phone or personal computer, the QuaDream spyware can record calls and external sounds, take pictures from cameras and search in device files without the user’s knowledge.

The programme can also generate two-factor authentication codes, i.e., passwords and security codes to secure continuous access to the device owner’s cloud accounts.

“Once QuaDream infections become discoverable through technical methods, a predictable cast of victims emerged: civil society and journalists,” the Citizen Lab report stated.

Moreover, QuaDream’s spyware, known as Reign, include tools such as “real-time call recordings, camera activation (front and back) and microphone activation,” according to a company brochure uncovered by Citizen Lab.

It added that the spyware includes a self-destruct feature to hide its previous existence, once it is not being used.

Citizen Lab identified servers in ten countries that received data from victims’ devices, including Israel, Singapore, Mexico, the UAE and Bulgaria.

It said that the company, QuaDream, marketed the spyware it produces to government clients in Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ghana, Indonesia, Morocco and other countries.

READ: Suspected cyberattack halts travel from Israel airport